Women suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction often suffer in silence, either because they are embarrassed by their symptoms or because they have sought help in the past and come up empty. New research points to some simple, yet effective solutions. For the one in three women who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD), this is good news.
Surgery and Medication May Not Be Necessary
Researchers at the University of Missouri have demonstrated through a recent study that comprehensive, non-surgical treatment provides a solution that improves the symptoms of this uncomfortable condition. Pelvic floor rehabilitation, for example, can solve many pelvic problems without the need for medication or surgery. The goal of this treatment, according to Julie Starr, doctoral student and family nurse practitioner, is to strengthen muscles for bladder control problems or relax muscles for constipation and pelvic pain problems.
The study, which Starr participated in with other University of Missouri researcher looked at data from close to 800 women with PFD. Specifically, the women were treated for urinary, bowel or pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction symptoms. The results were interesting:
According to their findings, patients who underwent at least five comprehensive pelvic floor rehabilitation therapy sessions had the best result, with an 80 percent average improvement in defecatory dysfunction, pelvic pain and urinary incontinence.
Understanding Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Therapy
What is this comprehensive pelvic floor rehabilitation therapy? According to Starr, it involves:
- Vaginal electrogalvanic therapy
- Kegel exercises
- Behavior modification
Of these, the electrogalvanic therapy (e-stim) proved to be very effective at relaxing muscles and lessening or eliminating pelvic pain during intercourse. Based on the results of the research, Starr states that she rarely offers medication to women with PFD, and does not advise surgery unless pelvic floor rehabilitation does not work.
In light of this study, women who have pelvic floor issues need to realize that less invasive treatment options do, in fact, exist. As men with prostate cancer often learn, the most aggressive treatment is not always the best, as it has the potential to cause unwanted risk and side effects. Whether treating a woman dealing with pelvic floor issues or a man with a recent prostate cancer diagnosis, Dr. Bert Vorstman recommends taking the least invasive approach.
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